TIME STANDS STILL
Illya talks about time and explains why he and Napoleon were apart for fifteen years.
An established relationship story.
Written: June 2005. Word count: 896.
When you love someone the way I love Napoleon, fifteen years can seem like a lifetime, or a heartbeat.
When I saw him in the café, I could hardly believe my eyes. And when I moved to his side to help him, the instincts instilled in me so long ago, that even time apart could not break them, I could not help blurting out, ‘It is you.' I knew then that my feelings were clear for all to see and hear. My love for this man had been broadcast to the entire room; maybe even to the entire world - but then they always had been. Part of me, ‘my pessimistic Russian' Napoleon used to call me, had given up hope that we would ever be reunited. Apparently my over-filled-with-optimism partner had never shared my doubts.
Fifteen years ago . . . I remember it as though it were yesterday. Apparently we had ruffled one too many THRUSH feathers, and we were told that we had to separate, not just as partners, but also as everything, for the sake of our lives. We fought, we argued, we cursed - well Napoleon did - we threatened, we vowed not to let it happen, I even tried sulking. However, Mr. Waverly was unmoving. We were to part. Napoleon left U.N.C.L.E. immediately and disappeared. I stayed for a while, until I too got out. Apparently as long as we were apart we were safe.
We were promised that once it was safe we would be called back in, reunited, and allowed to resume our lives together. However Uncle Alex died, and with him it seemed the promise. I had often thought that our being allowed to be together as partners in every sense of the word, had been down to Alexander Waverly's substantial influence and power, and that generally U.N.C.L.E. did not approve of its top two agents being homosexual. Not because they were bigoted, they were not, but because of conflicts of interest, potential blackmail situations, etcetera. However, as Alexander Waverly had known, these ‘problems' would have existed whether Napoleon and I were lovers or not - indeed they did, long before we crossed that particular line.
The years passed and I got on with existing. Vanya was successful, more so than I could ever have imagined. Why a frock company? I hear you ask. Simple: because it was a link with Napoleon. My partner, the man for whom an expensive suit was almost as good as sex. The man who would spend hours ensuring that his new socks were the perfect match for, or contrast to, his tie; the man whose damaged clothes cost U.N.C.L.E. more in six months than I cost them in my entire career. What other profession could I have chosen? What other profession would have made me as close to Napoleon, even if he were not by my side?
When we once again worked together again it was as if time had stood still. The old moves, telepathy, and intimate knowledge of one another was as fresh as if we had worked together only yesterday.
Oddly enough it was not the work I feared. It was the other intimacy - but even there I need not have worried. I, you see, had not taken another lover since the day Napoleon had left U.N.C.L.E. It is not that I did not have the opportunity, I did, many of them. The fashion industry offered me my choice of man or woman, or both. However, as I had never had a lover before Napoleon, I saw no reason to take one after him. I did not expect my sex-loving partner to have been as abstemious; indeed he would not have been my Napoleon Solo, had he avoided sexual contact with others. But my choice meant that I was sorely out of practice, whilst Napoleon had another fifteen years of experiences. Would I be good enough for him? The fears I knew when he first took me to bed over twenty years ago, resurrected themselves.
However, as I said, I need not have worried. Once I was back in Napoleon's arms, the years fled, time reversed itself, and it was as special and wonderful as ever. Napoleon had told me when we first enjoyed this kind of intimacy, that it was the best he had ever known. I had been skeptical, and reminded him of our vow never to lie to one another. So he explained to me the simple fact: it was the best ever because, for the first time ever he was truly in love, and was loved in return. That was what made the difference.
He is sleeping now whilst I watch over him. Not that I need to, but I just want to reassure myself that he is still here. It seems that he too shares my faint fears, as I am wrapped so tightly in his embrace, I could not move without waking him. It is as though he fears that if he does not hold on to me, that I will be gone. That it will have all been an illusion, a dream - a nightmare even. So although it is a little difficult to breathe comfortably, I shall not move. I will remain locked in his embrace, which is of course where I belong, just as he belongs in mine.
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